Communicator of the Year Recipients

2023 Communicator of the Year - Sue Breding

Sue Breding - City of Glendale, AZSept. 7, 2023 (Orlando, FL) – 3CMA Presents the 2023 Communicator of the Year Award to Sue Breding from the City of Glendale, AZ.

Sue has shown exceptional leadership throughout the 2022-23 year, receiving numerous honors and even earning a prestigious spot as a national trustee for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which you may or may not know is the governing body for Primetime, Daytime & Sports Emmy awards.

But that's just the beginning of their remarkable journey. When the largest single-day sporting event, Super Bowl LVII (57), came to their city in February 2023, this nominee played multiple leadership roles, contributing to the NFL’s successful hosting of the event. They led major communication efforts for the city, overseeing multiple projects and serving on a core city leadership team. Not only did they serve the city, but they also served the entire state by providing communication leadership as a member of the AZ Super Bowl Host Committee's communications team.

Moreover, in 2023, Sue was recognized as one of the state’s top female leaders and invited to join an elite group of Arizona’s accomplished women called Charter 100 AZ. They have reinvented the city’s outdated government communication methods, making it a cutting-edge city with a robust communication strategy and a high standard of excellence for all its outreach, both internal and external.

Sue has consistently demonstrated creativity and innovation in their communication strategies. Their forward-thinking approach, like creating a comprehensive digital media kit, has not only been beneficial to the media but has also made handling incoming requests for information more efficient during high-profile events.

Sue’s commitment extends to internal communication efforts as well. They have introduced initiatives like “Employee Express,” “The Success Factors Excellence Awards,” and “Employee Gratitude Month” to recognize and engage city employees, fostering a positive and inclusive work culture.

But perhaps what truly sets Sue apart is her dedication to community service and mentorship. She actively mentors the next generation of communicators and recently organized a student lunch and learn day at the media center, providing valuable insights into government communication to area high school broadcasting students.

Her generosity of spirit, collaborative mindset, and unwavering commitment to excellence in communication have strengthened the bond between the city and its residents, businesses, and stakeholders.

Sue’s tireless dedication and extraordinary contributions have not only put Glendale, Arizona, on the map but have set a shining example for communicators like us across the nation.

For all of this and more, including her many contributions to 3CMA, we are pleased to honor Sue Breding, Communications Director for the City of Glendale, Arizona, as the 2023 3CMA Communicator of the Year.

2022 Communicator of the Year - Kara Roberson


Sept. 8, 2022 (Portland, OR) – 3CMA Presents the 2022 Communicator of the Year Award to Kara Roberson from the City of Wentzville, MO.Kara Roberson

This year’s winner is a multi-faceted, award winning communications and marketing professional. She has exceptional leadership skills, design savvy, attention to detail and creativity, ensuring she is able to educate, inform and engage with the residents she serves.

This year’s winner oversees a growing communications division in the fastest-growing city in her state.

On top of those enormous day-to-day responsibilities, in the past year, she oversaw and implemented many initiatives to promote her city’s 150th anniversary, including a cake-decorating contest among employees and a historic visual representation of the city. 

She also partnered local artists with local businesses to highlight art in the community and create a sense of place. She did this while also designing and coordinating new wayfinding signage in town.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, she took on an entirely new division to help streamline and enhance customer service – on top of managing the communications division.

This woman is committed to promoting local government as a field for students and initiated an internship program for high school and college students. She is always the first to volunteer for special projects and coordinates regional PIO meetings to ensure area government communicators are sharing information and resources. She is also one of the first to respond to professional group listserv emails and social media posts from peers asking for help or resources. She has spent countless hours being a resource for other cities, answering questions, providing information and helping her colleagues be successful. She has been a proud member of 3CMA for more than seven years.

For all of this and more, including her many contributions to 3CMA, we are pleased to honor Kara Roberson, Community Relations Manager for the City of Wentzville, Missouri, as the 2022 3CMA Communicator of the Year.

2021 Communicator of the Year - Carrie Lujan

Sept. 9, 2021 (St. Louis, MO) – 3CMA Presents the 2021 Communicator of the Year Award to Carrie Lujan from the City of Santa Clarita, CA.Carrie Lujan

The list of things a Communications Manager does is quite extensive. They are protector of their agency’s reputation, storyteller, cheerleader, creative force, motivator, innovator and they always have their ear to the ground to hear the community’s desires and concerns. They take action and provide needed information during emergencies and tragedies – and create and innovate to build a sense of community during the best times.

This year’s Communicator of the Year has fulfilled all of these roles and more over the last two years. She has informed and engaged the residents of the community she serves through arguably the toughest times in its history, and she did it all while creating a strong sense of community and pride.

Santa Clarita is nestled in a valley 30 miles north of Downtown Los Angeles. Surrounded by acres of open space and a climate that sees temperatures reaching well past the 100-degree mark – there is a constant threat of wildfires. In October 2019, the devastating Tick Fire broke out on the east side of Santa Clarita. Fueled by high winds, the fire burned 4,615 acres, damaging 45 structures and destroying 29. The blaze also forced the evacuation of 40,000 residents, the largest evacuation operation in the City’s history.

From the Emergency Operations Center, Carrie Lujan gathered updates from the Command Post and partner agencies, and delivered timely, verified information to residents and media members, ensuring that clear communications reached those who needed it most. Her strategy included the deployment of the City’s emergency website, which was updated with regular posts. Live videos were posted to social media channels and press conferences were organized daily. This allowed residents to receive updates related to street closures and evacuations directly, while also combatting unverified information being posted online.

As the incident concluded, Carrie continued keeping residents informed by coordinating with Los Angeles County on the opening of a Local Assistance Center and using press releases, social media posts and live videos to educate residents on the resources available. Over the course of the Tick Fire, Carrie enhanced the City’s reputation as being the most trusted source of information in the Santa Clarita Valley.

This trust in the City was further solidified just 10 days later. On November 14, 2019, a student at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita pulled a handgun from his backpack and shot five of his classmates – killing two – before turning the gun on himself. Carrie reported to the command post, assisted with evacuations, reunifications and organizing the press conference. As the community tried to come to grips with the tragedy and young lives lost, Carrie took the lead in planning a community vigil, which brought nearly 15,000 community members together three days after the tragedy to grieve, support each other and begin to heal. The school district was understandably still shaken and processing what happened. Carrie stepped up and organized the vigil, coordinating speakers, run of show, family accommodations, secured thousands of glow sticks and more. In addition to planning the event logistics, Carrie also developed a comprehensive public outreach strategy to inform residents about the vigil, secured media coverage, created the Saugus Strong website and streamed the event through Facebook Live to more than 50,000 viewers. 

These tragedies took place just months before Santa Clarita and the world plunged into a global pandemic. Carrie quickly pivoted and embraced the technology available to safely continue outreach and engagement with the community and City staff. She produced regular Facebook Live updates from the Mayor to inform the public of the latest pandemic developments, restrictions and to answer their questions. She also worked to honor essential workers through the Hearts for Heroes campaign and reminded residents what resources and activities were still available, through the Santa Clarita CAN DOs.

So, for these reasons, and so many more, the City-County Communications & Marketing Association, assembled in conference in St. Louis, MO on the ninth day of September, 2021, does hereby confer its highest individual honor – the Communicator of the Year – upon our friend and colleague from the City of Santa Clarita, CA – Carrie Lujan

2019 Communicator of the Year - Julie Brechbill

Sept. 5, 2019 (Denver, CO) – 3CMA Presents the 2019 Communicator of the Year Award to Julie Brechbill from the City of Roswell, GA.

Julie has been an active member of 3CMA for more than 15 years serving as a board member, officer and as President. She has co-chaired three different 3CMA Annual Conferences, mobilizing government communications professionals throughout her state to coordinate 3CMA's signature event.

That's hard enough to do once, she's done it three times with a spectacularly short period of a few years between each conference.

Julie Brechbill

This member has been described as a trusted colleague, an excellent sounding board, an eager and responsive brainstorming partner and a strategic and innovative thinker. Her City co-workers say she fosters an environment where innovation and creativity can take place, allowing her team to find their own strengths and capabilities. Her commitment to community education on the systems of government, transparency and the active dispelling of misconceptions translates to best practices that can be put to use at almost any level.

Indeed, this member's belief in her team is never questioned – they feel understood and valued so they understand and value each other. It is this selfless enthusiasm she has brought to her leadership positions at 3CMA. In fact, it can truly be said that 3CMA has achieved its elite status among professional organizations due, in large part, to this member's abiding, if understated, influence.

She has been a leader to all, a friend to those fortunate enough to cross her path and a mentor to so very many in our profession.

So, for these reasons, and so many more, the City-County Communications & Marketing Association, assembled in conference at Denver, Colorado, on the fifth day of September, 2019, does hereby confer its highest individual honor – the Communicator of the Year – upon our friend and colleague from the City of Roswell, Georgia – Julie Brechbill.

2018 Communicator of the Year - Will Hampton

Sept. 6, 2018 (Milwaukee, WI) – 3CMA Presents the 2018 Communicator of the Year Award to Will Hampton from the City of Round Rock, TX

If you've been a member of 3CMA for any length of time, you've been exposed to this member's very good work. He has served as co-chair of two different 3CMA Annual Conferences, in 2011 and 2016. He is a frequent presenter and a mentor to many. In Texas, he has served as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers and currently serves on the 3CMA Board of Directors. He is also a founding member of the Advisory Board of the Certified Public Communicator Program at TCU.

Will Hampton

With a degree from the University of Texas, he went out into the world to commit journalism, but soon landed where he belongs – at the helm of what would become one of the most progressive and creative municipal communications shops in the nation.

In the 20 years since he started, his communications team has amassed an array of awards at the state and national levels that has, no doubt, overflowed their trophy case – more than 89 different honors, including five Savvies and 15 others from 3CMA.

Most importantly, his commitment to our profession is unparalleled. He puts his agency first, while managing to also give back of his time, efforts and expertise to his fellow members in Texas and beyond. He raises the bar on a daily basis and, leading by example, challenges the rest of us to be better.

And, as such, he is who many of us want to be when we grow up.

So, for these reasons and so many more, the City-County Communications & Marketing Association, assembled in conference, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Thursday through September 6, 2018, does hereby confer its highest individual honor – the Communicator of the Year – on our friend and colleague from the City of Round Rock, Texas – Mr. Will Hampton.

2017 Communicator of the Year - Nannette Rodriguez

Sept. 7, 2017 (Anaheim, CA) - 3CMA Presents the 2017 Communicator of the Year Award to Nannette Rodriguez from Palm Beach County, FL.

Growing in stature and importance since it's inception, the 3CMA Communicator of the Year award has come to be synonymous with those members who have not only performed above and beyond the call in their individual agencies, but have made their mark on 3CMA, providing leadership, mentorship and the kind of innovative thinking that has kept this organization growing as the premier association for government communicators for almost 30 years ...

This year's recipient embodies all of those qualities and so much more ...

Nannette Rodriguez

The 2017 Communicator of the Year has been a local government professional for more than 20 years and a member of 3CMA for nearly all of that same time. She is a creative, high-energy and award-winning communicator with a proven record of developing, executing and managing public relations and marketing projects and campaigns for her agencies.

She is an innovator in use of social media at the local level - how many agencies had a MySpace page? Today, the various social networks she started have collectively amassed more than 100,000 followers with their Twitter account being recognized nationally as one of the Top Five Government Twitter Handles by Code for America in 2011.

This member not only enhances the creative aspects of any project she's working on, she also has a firm grasp on ethical government leadership. She has led the way in communicating any number of local crises - from rogue public safety officers to hurricanes to protests and much more. She cultivates mutual respect with the local, state and national media while always provide forthright public relations counsel to senior staff and elected leaders.

For 3CMA, she currently serves on the Board of Directors. Previously, she has served as conference chair for mid-year and regional conferences and the Savvy Awards committee. She has presented on a myriad topics through the years from passing bond issues to mult-cultural and crisis communications, just to names a few. And, she has judged more Savvy categories than most of us put together.

Perhaps most importantly, she has also mentored many government communicators while simultaneously advocating for 3CMA professional development opportunities.

She is a proud graduate of the University of Miami, where she lectures regularly and has been married to her husband, Angel, for 32 years. They have two successful adult children.

And so ... in recognition of these accomplishments and so much more, the City-County Communications & Marketing Association, assembled in conference in Anaheim, California on Thursday through September 7, 2017, is proud to confer its highest honor - the Communicator of the Year - on our friend and colleague from Palm Beach County, Florida - and your incoming 3CMA President - Ms. Nannette Rodriguez.

2016 Communicator of the Year - Tom Bryson

Sept. 8, 2016 (San Antonio, TX) - 3CMA Presents the 2016 Communicator of the Year Award to Tom Bryson from the City of Farmers Branch, TX.

This year's winner is Tom Bryson, Director of Communications for Farmers Branch, Texas. Tom Bryson is clearly the epitome of a creative, experienced and dedicated government communicator. He has a passion for engaging citizens in their community. As a 3CMA member, he has done it all from entering and winning Savvys, to founding our annual film festival, to sharing his expertise, to helping host conferences and serving as a board member. Tom Bryson is a communicator that we all aspire to become.

Tom's involvement in 3CMA is exemplary, as is his professional affiliations. He has outstanding credentials and strong skills!

Tom Bryson

2015 Communicator of the Year - Chris Floore

For Immediate Release - 3CMA Announces 2015 Communicator of the Year

September 10, 2015

(Washington, D.C.) The City-County Communications & Marketing Association (3CMA), the nation's premiere professional association for local government communicators, has presented its 2015 Communicator of the Year Award to Chris Floore from Macon-Bibb County, GA.

3CMA announced the 2015 Communicator of the Year winner at the organization's annual conference, held Sept. 9-11 in Atlanta, Georgia. Nominees for the award were judged on a wide variety of qualities, including leadership, innovation and strategic planning, ethics, quality of their work, and contributions to 3CMA.

In recognition of his many contributions to local government community relations and public affairs. Over the last decade, Chris has had an extensive career as a public, government communicator. The testimonies from his community members showcase the respect and adoration they have for him. Chris is an acknowledged leader for innovation and strategic method of communication.

2014 Communicator of the Year - Pier Simeri

For Immediate Release - 3CMA Announces 2014 Communicator of the Year

September 5, 2014

Community Relations Director, Pier Simeri from the City of Avondale, AZ received the 3CMA Communicator of the Year Award.

Nominees for the award are judged on a wide variety of qualities, including leadership, innovation and strategic planning, ethics, quality of their work, and contributions to 3CMA.

Pier Simeri

"In recognition of her many contributions to local government community relations and public affairs. Her work has led to innovative and creative programs. She is a strong advocate of social media ensuring that city management and council understand the value of this form of communication and how essential it is in many aspects of marketing and public information. Her efforts contributed greatly to Avondale being named in 2013 the Number One Digital City in the Nation in its population group. She has a deep and abiding commitment to quality, creative communications with a passion to share her knowledge with others."

2013 Communicator of the Year - Michelle Bono

For Immediate Release - 3CMA Announces 2013 Communicator of the Year

September 12, 2013

This award was created to honor a 3CMA member who exemplifies what our profession is all about. Nominees are judged on a wide variety of qualities, including leadership in government communications and marketing, creativity and innovation, ethical and professional standards, understanding and implementation of the latest communications tools and devices in carrying out the mission of their organization, and of course, contributions to 3CMA.

Michelle Bono

3CMA is proud to say that the 2013 recipient of the award is a veteran - both in her career as a local government communicator, and most assuredly as a long-time member and supporter of 3CMA.

This years winner has a deep and abiding commitment to quality communications, a passion to share her knowledge, a strong emphasis on creativity, and a drive to ensure communicators have a place at the decision-making table.

Michelle has raised the bar by pushing, teaching, and demonstrating the value of measurable results, giving communications a key role in her city's initiatives. She is sought-after for presentations not just at 3CMA, but at other organizations' conferences and webinars as well. She is quick to encourage and support 3CMA members by freely sharing her ideas, her communications plans, and her blueprint for obtaining measurable results. I promise that once you've attended a 3CMA session at which she presents, you'll arrange your conference schedule the next time around to have the opportunity to hear her again. She also has donated her skills, knowledge and mentoring to innumerable community groups, non-profit associations and fellow communicators.

Michelle insists on a creative element in every communications plan and is the driving force behind a long list of very creative campaigns for her city, from having a wake for an old Live Oak tree that had to be removed in front of City Hall; a flash mob to build excitement about a road and community redevelopment project; and a Reach for the Stars animal adoption campaign designed to engage the community and win attention and a cash prize from ASPCA. She demonstrates that the true key to success is not just excelling at a task – but also believing in what you do.

It is 3CMA's distinct honor to present the 2013 Communicator of the Year Award to Michelle Bono from the City of Tallahassee, Florida!

2012 Communicator of the Year - Linda Harris

For Immediate Release - 3CMA Announces 2012 Communicator of the Year

September 7, 2012

This award was created to honor a 3CMA member who exemplifies what our profession is all about. Nominees are judged on a wide variety of qualities, including leadership in government communications and marketing, creativity and innovation, ethical and professional standards, understanding and implementation of the latest communications tools and devices in carrying out the mission of their organization, and of course, contributions to 3CMA.

Linda Harris

3CMA is proud to say that the 2012 recipient of the award is a veteran - both in her career as a local government communicator, and most assuredly as a long-time member and supporter of 3CMA.

"In recognition of her commitment to quality local government communication with diverse constituencies and leadership in raising the standards for marketing, civic engagement and community branding in Decatur, Georgia, and within the 3CMA family."

2011 Communicator of the Year - Kevin Knutson

3CMA Presents Inaugural Communicator of the Year Award To Reno, NV Professional

For Immediate Release

September 22, 2011

Contact: Richard Lillquist, Executive Director, 3CMA. Phone: (703) 707-0830.

(Washington, D.C.) The City-County Communications & Marketing Association (3CMA), the nation's premiere professional association for local government communicators, has presented its first Communicator of the Year Award to Reno, Nev. Assistant City Manager Kevin Knutson.

Kevin Knutson

3CMA announced the 2011 Communicator of the Year winner at the organization's annual conference, held Sept. 7-9 in Austin, Texas. Nominees for the award were judged on a wide variety of qualities, including leadership, innovation and strategic planning, ethics, quality of their work, and contributions to 3CMA.

Knutson, who has 20 years of experience with city governments, was the unanimous choice of the judging panel. He was selected for demonstrating that communications and marketing are essential to open, accountable and effective local government. He has excelled in strategic planning and the implementation, integration of communication and marketing in city management, use of dynamic communications tools, and commitment to transparent and open governance.

Knutson went to work for Reno in January 2008, serving as director of the Office of Management & Budget and director of Community Relations. He recently was promoted to assistant city manager, responsible for the oversight of administrative and governmental services, neighborhood services, community resources and public information. Prior to joining the city, Kevin served in several positions during 17 years with Coral Springs, Florida, including as director of Communications & Marketing. He holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from Florida International University in Miami, and recently received his Credentialed Manager designation from the International City/County Management Association.

Knutson has managed many communications challenges, providing citizens and elected officials with information and insight into city finances and management, planning and capital improvements, issues and services. He also has made numerous contributions to several professional associations and community organizations in addition to 3CMA.

Founded in 1988, 3CMA is the leading organization for local governments that are innovating new and better ways of communicating with their citizens. Members work for cities, counties, public utilities and other local government agencies, and include professionals in the fields of public information, public relations, marketing, government television, public affairs and more.